Structure is so important for children (and adults), but especially for children with Autism or other disorders. For most of the childhood years, school provides structure for your child’s day. But structure is needed even during holidays and after graduation. Here’s how to provide structure for your child:
- Establish Routines: In the morning, you have to get out of bed, brush your teeth, get dressed and eat breakfast. In the evening, you have to pick up after yourself, brush your teeth, get in your pajamas, put your clothes away, pick out clothes for tomorrow, and get in bed. Those are things that happen each and every day. So make them easy on yourself and teach your child to do each step in the same order every day. You can also have a routine for Afternoon/After school. To help your child remember the steps, take a picture of him as he does each step. Then paste the photos in order on some poster board to create a visual reminder/checklist.
- Have a plan for the week: Determine a basic theme for each day of the week to help your child predict what will happen. For example: Monday is for painting, Tuesday is for the library, Wednesday is movie night, etc.
- Schedule in some daily chores and exercise: Make sure your child has a regular exercise schedule and completes some chores each day. He will need to know how to take care of his home and body when he grows up, so start now.
- Limit screen time: It’s easy to sit in front of the TV or computer for hours. But it’s important to limit that time so that your child will develop other interests and skills.
- Make it fun! Add some music or make cleaning a game so that you and your child can have some fun.
Structure doesn’t have to be boring or limiting. It can actually free us up to have more fun and flexibility. They also help your child feel more secure and tolerate breaks in routine better.